Computer Laboratory

Stereoscopic 3D Displays

Neil Dodgson, Lech Świrski

Enhancing depth cues in 3D displays using real-time user feedback

Lech Świrski

Świrski's work is into enhancing the depth cues in personal stereoscopic 3D displays using real-time user feedback. Ideally, this would use very precise vergence information to drive feedback from the disaply. Currently, Świrski is building a binocular eye tracker on top of a pair of active stereo glasses, to track gaze position in 3D and adapt the focal blur of the displayed image to match the viewer's expectation.

Non-photorealistic rendering of stereoscopic video

Christian Richardt

Richardt's PhD (2007-2012) investigated the role of coherent depth in NPR, as both an input modality and in terms of assessing stereoscopic viewing comfort. A central component of his work was RGBZ videos. His dissertation considers the full life cycle of these videos: from their acquisition, via filtering and processing, to stereoscopic display.

The Cambridge Autostereoscopic Display

Neil Dodgson, Adrian Travis (Microsoft Research, formerly Department of Engineering), John Moore & Stewart Lang

The Cambridge autostereo display project (1989–1998) was a collaboration between the Department of Engineering, the Computer Laboratory and a number of commercial organisations. It produced several displays based on technology which produces true stereoscopic imagery without the need for any special glasses or other headgear. The Rainbow Group at the Computer Laboratory produced the computer interfaces to the display, wrote demonstration software, designed a camera system to provide live 3D video input, and analysed the mechanism by which the display works. The Laboratory has published around twenty papers on various aspects of the display.

The first displays were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since 1995, the display was pushed towards commercialisation by a consortium of companies in the UK, USA and Korea. In its day, the 50″ display produced a more compelling autostereoscopic effect than any competing technology. While ahead of its time in image quality, commercialisation was unsuccessful. The technology suffered from the length of its optical path length: in the 50″ version the distance from the CRT faceplate to the viewer was over four metres; even with several mirrors to fold the optical path, the displays were bulky. Flat panel autostereoscopic displays have since been more successful commercially, though no flat panel display has yet matched the quality of the 1999 Cambridge 50″ display.

Both Prof. Dodgson and Dr Travis have continued with work in the area. Prof. Dodgson is on the committee and sometime chair of the annual Stereoscopic Displays & Applications conference, the principal venue for the dissemination of results in the field.

50 inch autostereo display

50″ autostereo display
The final (1999) version of the display built by the original Cambridge team. This has a 50″ diagonal screen and two viewing lobes, each with 15 views. It is described in our paper “A 50″ time-multiplexed autostereoscopic display” (N. A. Dodgson, J. R. Moore, S. R. Lang, G. Martin and P. Canepa; Proc. SPIE 3957, SPIE Symposium on Stereoscopic Displays and Applications XI, 23-28 Jan 2000, San Jose, California).

25 inch autostereo display

25″ autostereo display
The 25″ diagonal, 28 view autostereoscopic system, first demonstrated in 1997. This was the first of the third generation displays, which utilises our 285 kHz line rate CRT drivers. The front lens of the display is horizontal, viewed through the diagonal mirror. The four CRTs are mounted just in front of where the viewer's knees would be. The blue plastic seat was designed for video game applications. There were speakers at the top of the seat and matching packaging to surround the display.

older displays

Older displays (click to enlarge image)
Two of the second generation model of the Cambridge autostereo display, developed in the early 1990s. On the left is a colour 10″ screen diagonal model, showing a live video image which is being captured by the array of cameras at the top of the picture. John Moore can be seen on the display’s screen, taking the photograph. On the right is the prototype 25″ model, displaying a greyscale image of an organic molecule. In front of this is a Logitech 3D mouse. Between the two displays is a PC, containing an off-the-shelf graphics card (from Datapath), used to generate images for the displays. The photograph was taken in August 1995.

The display on left and the camera system were still operational in February 2010, a tribute to the engineering genius of John Moore.